Social Networking Conference Case Study: Aubrey Sabala on Building Community with Events

Case Study: Aubrey Sabala on How Digg Builds Community with EventsCase Study: Aubrey Sabala on How Digg Builds Community with Events shows how Digg bridges the gap and takes its online community to the streets.

Aubrey leads marketing for Digg, the social network and social bookmarking site, and she spoke about Digg’s approach of using physical events to drive engagement on the site.

  • Aubrey has been at Digg for 19 months, and she manages marketing programs to drive user growth and retention. Key programs are Digg Town Halls, Bigg Digg Shindiggs, Diggnation and Digg meetups.
  • Currently, the Digg community is 36 million, and the culture is analogous to rock music; the events are metaphorically like rock concerts, and leaders are rock stars. It’s a very irreverent and vocal culture. Some stats: 36 million members, 48% female, 19-34 is the dominant demographic (13+ required); the late 30s segment is growing fast.
  • Digg is a hybrid; it is a portal for all kinds of stories whose visibility is determined by community vote: stories with the most “Diggs” make it to the front page and gain significant visibility worldwide; these stories can be MSM, blog posts, YouTube videos, etc.
  • They do a lot of video, so the physical events are a way to extend their engagement footprint.
  • Several months ago, Digg management decided to be more responsive and engaging with respect to their community, and Aubrey’s been involved with outreach. It’s been very successful; people have even been known to quit their jobs and take their families to Digg events.
  • Digg’s main vehicle is its blog; they have a new tech blog; Digg also uses Facebook Ads and events; Digg founder Kevin Rose uses Twitter. However, Digg doesn’t spend much money to promote its events, $3,000 maximum per event. Digg is a Facebook Connect partner.
  • They don’t track who attends; there’s no registration (consequently, the team required to organize isn’t huge, either); they justify the cost by knowing that engagement and size of the community is increasing.
  • One option Digg is considering is monetizing select opportunities in which advertisers could connect directly with segments of the community; another idea is “Diggable ads.”
  • Most Digg events have been unique, and the company is pondering doing them alongside other (non-Digg) events (like conferences). They did cover Republican and Democratic conventions, and that was a big hit with the community.
  • They wonder how they can keep the momentum they have been building with the events.
  • Digg and the enterprise? Digg is B2C focused, so the company doesn’t have a current vision for pursuing enterprise business.

SNC-logo-smThe Social Networking Conference took place June 24-26 in Beverly Hills. Between leading the pre-conference workshop on Enterprise Social Networking and leading the final panel, I scribbled these notes.

Enjoy and watch for the final report within a few days!

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